The Rashtriya Rifles (RR) is undoubtedly the most significant organisational innovation undertaken by the Indian Army in recent times. Organised, equipped and trained to fight insurgency in the state of Jammu & Kashmir. It has proved itself as the invincible middle piece of counter-insurgency and counter-terror operations, in the turbulent nineties and the decade to follow.
Rashtriya Rifles Local Integration
A few dozen RR Units deployed to the North and South of Pir Panjal Range have over time rationalised their presence per the local culture, sentiment and proclivities. There is no doubt that the raising and expansion of RR Units, in the operational context, is sure to become a subject of serious study for future field commanders and academics alike.
The Maratha Regiment of RR
The Maratha Regiment has made a significant contribution towards the raising of RR Units. Four such units have been raised over the past two decades. The 17, 27, 41 and 56 RR (Rashtriya Rifles) are examples of well-rounded counter-insurgency units in Jammu & Kashmir. They have repeatedly risen to the occasion and bravely faced tricky operational situations, apart from fostering a healthy relationship with the local populace.
Maratha boys are known for their excellent temperament and perseverance and most suited for populating these units. It is no wonder then that the Maratha Regiment has been among the first to raise and field four RR Units.
When other regiments are maintaining just two or three RR units, at best. Also, the Maratha boys are known to gel well with members at arms and services deputed to staff these units. This is mostly because of their inherent soldierly qualities and attitude.
History and Accolades
Here, it is also important to remember that the Marathas trace their lineage back to Shri Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj who was known for his expertise in guerrilla warfare and thus have historical credentials. They are ideally suited to be deployed as a counter-insurgency force in hostile and challenging terrain conditions. Their role and achievements as RR units in J&K are noteworthy.
The 17 (RR) Rashtriya Rifles
The leader of the pack, 17 RR Battalion, raised in May 1994 by Colonel RS Nagal saw action in Banihal sector. Over the period, the battalion has been performing the arduous task of securing one of the most critical lines of communication into Kashmir Valley which is considered as the lifeline for all our counter-insurgency operations in North and South Kashmir.
The battalion today is the proud recipient of
- 1 Kirti Chakra,
- 1 Shaurya Chakra
- 5 Sena Medals.
- General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) Appreciation in Jan 2000.
The 27 (RR) Rashtriya Rifles
27 RR, since its raising has rendered yeoman service in the insurgency affected areas south of the Pir Panjal Range. The unit was raised under the leadership of Colonel B Ahobkirk at Belgaum in August 1994.
A mix of Maratha LI and Armoured Corps troops, the battalion saw significant action during Operation Sarp Vinash, in 2004.
Ever since its raising, the unit has had the honour of receiving:-
- 1 Kirti Chakra
- 3 Shaurya Chakras
- 23 Sena Medals
- 1 Vishisht Seva Medal.
- General Officer Commanding-in-Chief (GoC-in-C) Appreciation in 2000
- Chief of Army Staff Unit (COAS) Citation in 2002 for its operational efficiency.
The 41 (RR) Rashtriya Rifles
41 RR, the third of the Maratha RR Battalions, was raised by Col SV Chaudhari at Belgaum and deployed in North Kashmir, during the period when insurgency was at its peak, and the area was under the sway of foreign militants and tanzeems of all hues and sizes.
On deployment, the battalion set a scathing operational pace to eliminate militant after militant in the Kupwara district of J&K.
For its dynamic approach to the assigned task, the battalion has earned:-
- 1 Yuddha Sewa Medal
- 1 Shaurya Chakra
- 15 Sena Medals.
Over and above its operational valour, the unit has carved a place for itself in the hearts and minds of the local populace because of its professionalism and benevolence, both in times of trouble and peace.
The 56 (RR) Rashtriya Rifles
The recent addition to this list is 56 Rashtriya Rifles (RR). Raised in February 2000 by Colonel PK Singh at Belgaum, the battalion is presently stationed in North Kashmir.
Deployed in a counter-infiltration role, the battalion in recent years has achieved significant success in throttling the inflow of militants from Pakistan Occupied Kashmir into the Kashmir Valley.
- One Kirti Chakra,
- One Vishisht Sewa Medal and
- 10 Sena Medals.
The Regiment takes great pride in this newly raised unit and looks forward to its bright future. The Maratha Regiment has contributed immensely towards enhancing the aim of raising RR Units for J&K, and it needs to be applauded for it. The Ganpats have worn the Black Stars and Stripes of the RR with great elan and pride.